Throughout my whole life, I've never been a fan of writing, especially journaling. I grew up watching TV shows such as The Vampire Diaries, where the main character kept a diary. In the very first episode, Elena Gilbert's diary entry looked something like this:
Dear Diary, Today will be different. It has to be. I will smile, and it will be believable. My smile will say, "I'm fine, thank you. Yes, I feel much better." I will no longer be the sad little girl that lost her parents. I will start fresh, be someone new. It's the only way I'll make it through.
I must admit the thought of buying or keeping a journal has crossed my mind several times, but again I'm not the type of person that writes down what happened throughout the day or how I felt. For this reason, I've ignored this thought up until I came across a cute, tiny notebook in the bookstore. I've always been a fan of stationery supplies so it was no surprise to me. So I bought it, thinking I'll just put it aside with the other cute things that I don't use, which was true but only for a short period of time. After a few days, I found myself longing to talk to someone, especially now that we are quarantined and I can't really hang out with my friends.
This is when my cute notebook came in handy. I grabbed it from my shelf, sat down, and started writing down all my feelings. Surprisingly, I couldn't put it down. After I was done, I decided to read what I've written and this is when I noticed that I was admitting things that I've never actually said out loud. No, it wasn't exciting but it was indeed scary. I wouldn't consider myself to be an introvert but I am a bit reserved. I've always kept my feelings to myself. I was afraid of sharing way too much information about myself and allowing a person to know so much about me.
In fact, I have a group chat that consists of only me, where I send voice notes to myself because it almost feels like I'm talking to people about my feelings, even when I'm not. Before assuming that I'm crazy, let me tell you why I do so. I’m the type of person who rants and sends voice notes while crying and then regrets it right away. I end up deleting it right before the other person listens to it. So, as a relieving solution, I created a group and then kicked the other people out of it. Thus, it’s only me in the group. Whenever I’m mad or I want to get rid of what’s on my chest, I just send voice notes to this group.
However, I've never felt this comfortable while opening up like I did when I wrote down my feelings. I feel like I should stop bottling up my emotions and truly trust my journal. Believe it or not, I've already journaled for over 40 days and it certainly taught me so much. Here are some things that happened:
1. I had a purpose in life
When you have a blank page in front of you, you feel forced to just fill it all by jotting down everything and anything. For this reason, I was coming up with new ideas and things to do. Tracking everything I do - or at least most of the things - has made me realize how productive I am. I finally felt like I had a purpose in life. Even on the days where I felt lost, I knew what I was doing with my life and what I want to achieve. I had goals and dreams that I've never had before journaling.
2. I achieved short term goals faster
Every time a new goal came to my mind, I used to write it down in my journal. This helped keep me committed and persistent. The thought of not achieving my goal made me feel bad. I didn't want to be writing something and then not achieve it. Therefore, I was motivated to do my best on going after it and achieving it. I always felt like there was a person watching me and waiting for me to do it. I wouldn't have the guts to pick up my journal until I had done this thing.
3. I was always happy and relieved
Opening up to my journal has helped me become less stressed and relieved. I usually journal before I sleep so this helps me wake up happy and having nothing on my mind. It just feels good to let go of everything at the end of a bad or tiring day.
4. I did a lot of reflecting
I've always had many reflection essay assignments during high school, but I never really got the point of it until I started journaling. Reflecting is very important because it teaches you to explore and examine yourself. Sometimes, we make wrong decisions and ignore them. However, when reflecting, you will start analyzing these wrong decisions and learn from them. This is when you will start understanding yourself better and be able to move forward with your life.
5. I finally had the guts to trust my decisions
Once you write something on a paper, it usually feels like you can't erase it. It's like you've admitted something and can't undo it. This was actually something that had made me very uncomfortable at first but has later taught me to trust my decisions. Sticking to your decisions is crucial and I strongly believe that this was the most important thing I've learned. I finally felt like I had a voice and didn't care about what others thought of me or my decisions.
All in all, journaling has, indeed, changed my life and taught me so many things about myself. If you are thinking whether you should give it a go or not, I would absolutely recommend it. In addition, there's nothing to lose so don't feel afraid of trying new things.
“Be fearless in trying new things, whether they are physical, mental, or emotional, since being afraid can challenge you to go to the next level.” –Rita Wilson